Freer, Menzies picked to fill Assembly seats

Both vow to mayor they won't run in October

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly appointed two people Monday to vacant seats on that body following two resignations last week.

Peter Freer filled departing Assembly member Bob Doll’s seat, while Malcolm Menzies steps into the slot left by recent appointee Katherine Eldemar. Both new members received their appointments by unanimous consent of the Assembly.

Freer has been a Juneau resident since 1949, moving from Seattle. He graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1966, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound and a Bachelor of Science from Western Washington University’s Huxley College. Freer has been active in the state and local government and the local arts scene. He served on the Assembly from 1983-1987.

Menzies was born in Park Falls, Wis. and moved throughout the Midwest. He served as an engineering technician before entering the U.S. Army in 1958. After serving in the Army he worked in Alaska seasonally, earning a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the Chicago Technical College.

Menzies continued with engineering in Alaska and Washington, raising his family in Juneau.

Menzies served seven years on the city’s Planning Commission.

Botelho sought to fill Doll’s seat with a person who had served on the Assembly before, but did not harbor ambitions to run in the fall. He proposed filling Eldemar’s seat from a pool of candidates who applied with Eldemar. Eldemar was chosen to fill Assemblyman Jonathan Anderson’s seat at the end of May.

Prior to the meeting, Christopher Nelson asked the Assembly to consider him as a candidate for either seat. Nelson was the youngest person to run in the election last fall for a seat, finishing third in a three-way race for Karen Crane’s District 2 seat. Nelson is a customer service representative for the Empire.

Before Botelho proceeded, he asked the Assembly members if they were comfortable with his outlined approach.

Assemblywoman Ruth Danner was the sole voice in opposition, but not for the method.

“My concern is we are so close to the election,” she said. “While I in general have no objections to your proposal, it’s my second choice. I would rather leave the seats open for the people to fill the vacancies. It seems like we’re asking a great deal to ask someone to do all the work, prepare for meetings, be well informed for such a short time. There will still be seven members. We need five to make any action.”

Assemblyman Merrill Sanford said he would feel the same way if this occurred a little bit closer to elections.

“We have to continue the business of the people,” he said.

Sanford said there also are a couple of assembly members who have planned to be gone for a month throughout the summer.

Assemblyman Bob Doll turned his resignation to Botelho on Friday, and Botelho also announced Eldemar’s resignation. Her letter was dated June 23, however, Botelho had been at an international mayors conference in Israel.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect the fact Mayor Bruce Botelho was out of town for a conference in Israel and to reflect Christopher Nelson is employed by the Empire.

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